There was a choice we had to make: Where are we going to cross the border to Mexico? West? L.A. is cool, San Diego also but is Baja California with all its surfer culture and tourism the genuine Mexico? East? San Antonio and following the Caribbean Sea seems nice but there are a lot of miles to do! So what do we find in the center? Phoenix!!! With a lot of different Greyhound bus connections and being the capital of Arizona it seems a decent choice.
Before arrival at the hostel we booked, the plan was to spend one night but as we step out of the taxi, we see the cozy terrace and the different guests having a good time, and decided to stay two nights. After joining the conversations that first night we felt the need to stay 3 nights…and as I repaired some bikes we were offered to stay the 4th night for free!!!
So back to the beginning.
It’s midnight and after an endless bus trip we finally arrive at our hostel. We see some people sitting on the terrace, having a beer, a laugh and some good conversations. We book 2 nights and after joining them for a drink it becomes clear that Camelbackpackers is more than just a Phoenix hostel. It feels familiar as the stories cross the table, comparing US sports with European sports, and having hilarious laughs while our host, ex-marine and helicopter pilot, tries to justify his dark past as a male cheerleader.
After breakfast we get some information about the city and start our day. At the hostel they have a list of what to do each day of the week, where to go and what to visit. There is this farmers market to try out some local food, a museum with free entrance (nice, but not really our type of art), pubs and bars with live music and stand-up.
In the evening Sue, one of the girls who work there, has the crazy idea to play beer-pong. Basically it is a drinking game that changes rules according the game progress (read: depending if Sue is winning or not 😉 ) Different teams are playing the whole evening long the ‘Camelbackpackers beer-pong’ league. The winners play next game, as they are the ones who drink less, seems a right deal…but was the wrong decision!!! Because we didn’t know that we had two beer pong pro’s in the hostel. A Welsh-English alliance was growing by the minute and blew away any other team, any hope and dream of winning the championship. They were hilarious, asking for timeouts, discussing tactics,… and entertained us all evening long. They end the night giving a press conference, where they wisely but sadly announce their retirement, after 40 years of dominating the beer-pong world. Phoenix is considering seriously placing a statue in honor of Lee and Ross 😀
As the sun rises, the day starts and the temperature increases and that means heat in Phoenix! So the action comes later on the evening with first a card game: Cards Against Humanity and later we go out with the whole group. What a great night! We just met but we had so much fun we felt like we knew each other since childhood. So…let’s get the party started! Shots of tequila to warm up, vodka redbull to keep it going and some dancing to get it all out again. One drink after another, laughs after laughs, we kept on dancing, singing and having a good time all night long. After enjoying Ross’ flash flirting with some unknown blonde girls and making toasts to celebrate the beginning of new friendships, and any other excuse he could find to tribute…we close the bar (2 at night), collect Sue and her belongings and went home, another prodigious day and evening passed by.
Next day we pass by the post office, send some cards and a packet and have still the whole day… we discover downtown, with its small bars and restaurants and even find a place to eat just a salad… no sauce, no Kcal-dressing…just the vegetables! Loosing ourselves in the streets we pass the stadium of the Phoenix Suns Basketball team, just a street away from Cooperstown. The bar of singer/song writer/even actor Alice Cooper. A place full of golden and platinum discs, albums, signed guitars and gadgets of all kind,… where you literally can order a 50cm hotdog!
Walking a bit further we find the stadium of the Diamondbacks, Phoenix’s baseball team. People in the street offering entrances while the game started already seems a strange fact and even more as they are asking different prices. We tell the guy that we are from Europe and even if we would pay for a ticket we would not know what we are looking at!!! So he wishes us a great evening and gives us two tickets for free, just what we were fishing for… and this is how we entered in the crazy world of baseball. Entering the stadium in the middle of the game, we see lots of people chatting in the hallways and staircases, parents buying beverage for the kids, youngsters flirting with each other… There are people everywhere doing lots of things but watching the game… we find it bizarre, as baseball is one of the most popular games in the states. As we sit down we watch the scoreboard…we see lots of different numbers…and still have no clue who is winning!!! The players on the field are walking a bit around waiting till maybe somebody hits the ball. Then suddenly a player hits the ball… the ball is flying so far that it hits the wall…everybody is excited and applauding and still there is hardly movement on the field. The players are jogging their way to the base, they hi-five each other and walk to the bench. Numbers are changing on the score board and a big screen shows homerun.
So this is as excited as it gets and no player is sweating. We start to wonder or there is actually any player that sweats in this game. As the game passes by we start to realize that this must be the most boring game in existence. I have seen curling games more exciting than this!!! This game is endless… so before time we stand up and as we walk to the exit we see people still entering, groups of man having good times at the staircase and families leaving the game commenting different plays. We see the same youngsters still flirting, they didn’t progress, but are sharpening the skills while the girls, exchanging phone numbers, exercise their seductive look. Passing by these scenes bit by bit we realize that all of them are bored watching the game, none of them are interested in points or pitchers but they all are having a great time just like us!!!
Last day of phoenix Scott and Jasmine are taking us to Pleasant Lake. A peaceful place to cool down from the dessert heat, to relax and socialize a bit with the other backpackers. We pass the day talking while floating in the water, stone skipping and having beers.
After a day like this we are ready to go and find new horizons.